By JONAS TERRADO
NorthPort faces its first major test since the resumption of its PBA Philippine Cup campaign by putting a three-game winning streak on the line against league-leading TNT Wednesday, Sept. 15 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Batang Pier aim to continue their impressive run of form in the 3 p.m. match against the Tropang Giga, who are also seeking to extend their own streak to three straight victories and move closer towards securing a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Coach Pido Jarencio and assistants Rensy Bajar, Jeff Napa and Jaren Jarencio are expected to be back on the sidelines after recovering from COVID-19.
While Jarencio and his staff were under quarantine, team manager Bonnie Tan called the shots during the Batang Pier’s victories over the Blackwater Bossing, Terrafirma Dyip and NLEX Road Warriors.
Those wins catapulted NorthPort to sixth place at 4-3 after missing the first week of the restart due to health and safety protocols.
Momentum is also in TNT’s hands after bouncing back from its lopsided defeat to San Miguel Beer with wins over NLEX and defending champion Barangay Ginebra.
At 8-1, the Tropang Giga are closing in on securing the first twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals given to the top two teams after the eliminations.
A big matchup will be NorthPort’s Robert Bolick taking on TNT rookie Mikey Williams at the backcourt spot.
Bolick was hailed as the Cignal Play PBA Press Corps Player of the Week after averages of 19.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists during the streak. For the conference, the NorthPort rising star has produced 18.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.1 steals in seven games.
Williams has also been impressive for TNT with 17.9 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.4 steals in eight games. The fourth pick in the PBA Rookie Draft has also seen an increase in his field goal percentage from 26.7 in the first three games to 41.2.
A key battle for playoff positioning follows the NorthPort-TNT duel with slumping Ginebra facing streaking Phoenix Super LPG at 6 p.m.
Losses to SMB and TNT dropped Ginebra to ninth spot at 3-5, half-game behind Phoenix and NLEX, both sharing seventh to eighth at 4-5.
Phoenix is coming off wins over Terrafirma and Blackwater last week.